By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
ESTEVAN, SK – July 12, 2008 – Brady Smith has suddenly become the hottest driver on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
Twenty-four hours after capturing his first-ever victory on the tour in a down-to-the-wire thriller, Smith made it two straight with an utterly dominant performance in Saturday night’s ‘Energy City 50’ at Estevan Motor Speedway.
Smith, 31, of Solon Springs, Wis., mastered the outside groove in the first-ever WoO LMS event held in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. He drove forward from the 14th starting spot to take the lead from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., on lap 27 and then sailed away from the field, beating Lanigan by commanding 5.792 seconds – one of the largest victory margins of this season’s WoO LMS.
Defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., finished third, followed by 13th-starter Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., who registered a career-best tour finish driving Smith’s backup car.
“To win two World of Outlaws features is an accomplishment,” said Smith, who scored his milestone career-first tour triumph on Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., by just 0.121 of a second over Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill. “But winning two in-a-row is just awesome. Doing this against the competition on this series, I couldn’t be more proud for our team.”
Driving his familiar Amsoil-sponsored Bloomquist Chassis machine, Smith side-stepped a multi-car tangle on the opening lap that eliminated such top contenders as Babb, Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga.., and soon found himself sitting in fifth place. He proceeded to make mincemeat of the field following the race’s third and final caution flag, on lap 14, powering around the outside of the three-eighths-mile oval in peerless fashion.
Smith raced through the top five by disposing of Francis, Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., Purkey and, finally, Lanigan in a matter of 13 laps. He stayed perched high on the track once in command and built an edge of well over a straightaway.
“I shot up to fifth fairly early and then I kinda rode around for a while,” said Smith, who pocketed $10,150 while joining Richards and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., as a winner of back-to-back WoO LMS A-Mains in 2008. “Then that caution came out (on lap 14) and I had to restart on the outside, so I thought, ‘This is a perfect time to try the top (groove).’
“And man, our car just worked like gangbusters up there. It was just unbelievable.
“I think the track kind of opened up a little bit (as the race went on),” he analyzed. “There was traction up there, and a guy could bring some real good speed (into the corners) and carry it all the way through the middle with the gas pedal on the wood.”
Lanigan, 38, started third and grabbed the lead from polesitter John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., on the second lap, but the WoO LMS points leader couldn’t stop Smith’s onslaught. Hampered slightly after hitting the track’s turn-four uke tire and bending the left-front spindle of his GottaRace.com Rocket car just before the lap-14 caution flag, Lanigan could only watch Smith drive away from him.
“It seemed like the handling changed a little bit after I hit that uke tire,” said Lanigan, who recorded his 13th consecutive top-five finish in WoO LMS competition. “But I think (Smith) had a little different tire on than everybody else and that was the difference.”
Smith went a bit softer with his Hoosier tire selection, keying his triumphant run. He acknowledged the fact in Victory Lane.
“We’re not WoO series regulars so we’re not real up on exactly what tires to run,” said Smith, alluding to the tour’s open-tire rule. “But picking tires is a guessing game for everybody, and we’ve had the right tires on the last couple nights and we’ve pocketed the money.”
Francis, 40, crossed the finish line more than two seconds behind Lanigan after his bid to grab second late in the distance was dive-bombed by lapped traffic, but he was surprisingly upbeat in defeat.
“I’m just happy that we were finally able to finish a race in the top five,” said Francis, who started eighth in Dale Beitler’s Reliable Painting Rocket. “I got too tight at the end, so we’ll take a third.”
The Clint Smith Racing GRT cars took the fourth and fifth spots, with team owner Smith leading Purkey across the finish line. Smith overtook Purkey for fourth on lap 42 and briefly challenged Francis for third, but slower cars hindered his efforts.
“I had Francis beat until lapped traffic messed me up,” said Smith, 42. “My car was real good. I just started too far back and didn’t get to the front fast enough.”
Purkey, a veteran Midwest racer who is accompanying Smith on the ‘Wild West Tour’ and driving Smith’s backup car in selected events, climbed as high as second from the seventh starting spot. He raced side-by-side for the lead with Lanigan for laps 14-18 before beginning to fade.
Nevertheless, Purkey’s fifth-place finish earned him the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ prize for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a tour A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top 12 in the current points standings.
“I had on a different tire combination and I was slowly sliding back,” said Purkey. “I’m just glad to get to race for Clint and race up front. This is only the second night we’ve run the car, and I’m happy we got Clint a top five to help him out with some money for the trip.”
Purkey was able to continue after being involved in the event’s big opening-lap accident. Contact between Purkey and Eckert sent Eckert’s No. 24 into Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., setting off a wild scramble in which Eckert spun to the top of the track and was struck by Clanton, Babb and Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo. Mars also spun, but was able to continue.
The accident left the Eckert, Clanton and Babb cars with significant damage, costing each WoO LMS regular dearly in the points standings.
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Richards, who fell back from his outside-pole starting spot; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., who recovered from his involvement in the opening-lap tangle and a lap-14 pit stop to change a flat tire; Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y.; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; and Blankenship, who pitted during the lap-14 caution period.
Twenty-six cars were signed in for the event at Estevan, which is located 10 miles north of the United States border.
The track’s biggest crowd of the season jammed the stands on a very blustery night, with sustained winds of 30-40 mph creating chilly summer conditions.
Mars toured the oval in 15.773 seconds during qualifying to record the first WoO LMS fast-time honor of his career.
Heat winners were Mars, Lanigan and Richards.
The WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ returns to the U.S. on Sunday night (July 13) for a first-ever event at Willison Basin Speedway in Williston, N.D. Following a two-day break, the swing will conclude with shows on July 16 at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway; July 18 at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, S.D.; July 20 at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks; and July 21 at Boone County Raceway in Albion, Neb.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Energy City 50’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (14) Brady Smith/50 $10,150
2. (3) Darrell Lanigan/50 $5,100
3. (8) Steve Francis/50 $3,000
4. (13) Clint Smith/50 $2,500
5. (7) Al Purkey/50 $2,500
6. (2) Josh Richards/50 $1,700
7. (4) Jimmy Mars/50 $1,400
8. (11) Tim Fuller/50 $1,300
9. (16) Chub Frank/50 $1,200
10. (1) John Blankenship/50 $1,200
11. (15) Brad Seng/49 $1,050
12. (12) Mike Balcaen/49 $1,000
13. (18) Dustin Hapka/49 $950
14. (24) Joe Isabell/49 $1,150
15. (22) Ricky Weiss/49 $850
16. (25) Sean Beardsley/48 $800
17. (17) Ed Turnbull/48 $770
18. (21) Troy Heupel/48 $750
19. (20) Dave Smith/46 $730
20. (19) Jeff Isabell Jr./36 $700
21. (26) Gary Webb/9 $700
22. (23) John Winge/2 $700
23. (5) Rick Eckert/0 $700
24. (6) Shannon Babb/0 $700
25. (9) Kelly Boen/0 $700
26. (10) Shane Clanton/0 $700
Time of Race: 18 Mins., 13.933 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 5.792 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 0, 0, 14)
Lap Leaders: Blankenship (1); Lanigan (2-26); B. Smith (27-50)
Provisional Starters: None
Rookie of the Race: Joe Isabell ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Al Purkey ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jay Cardy (Clint Smith/Al Purkey)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Blankenship (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Blankenship ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 28-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 15.773
2. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 15.855
3. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 16.007
4. 41-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 16.033
5. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 16.053
6. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.133
7. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.158
8. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 16.286
9. 10-Mike Balcaen/Winnipeg, MAN 16.311
10. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.391
11. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.405
12. 07-Kelly Boen/Henderson, CO 16.507
13. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.508
14. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.615
15. 12s-Brad Seng/Grand Forks, ND 16.731
16. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.762
17. 17J-John Winge/Rossville, GA 16.925
18. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 16.998
19. 7-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, MAN 17.097
20. w56-Gary Webb/Bluegrass, IA 17.100
21. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 17.109
22. 18s-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 17.163
23. 10EH-Ed Turnbull/Estevan, SK 17.247
24. 4T-Troy Heupel/Williston, ND 17.423
25. 27J-Jeff Isabell/Pennellville, NY 17.483
26. 06-Dave Smith/Edmonton, AB 17.909
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Mars, Blankenship, Purkey, Clanton, C. Smith, Frank, Jeff Isabell Jr., Weiss, Beardsley
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Lanigan, Babb, Francis, Fuller, B. Smith, Turnbull, D. Smith, Winge, Webb
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 2 Redraw): Richards, Eckert, Boen, Balcaen, Seng, Hapka, Heupel, Joe Isabell
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 12 – 21 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-13-19-$62,350-2883 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-11-17-$77,560-2831 (-52)
3. Rick Eckert 1-9-16-$52,750-2777 (-106)
4. Chub Frank 1-7-14-$44,030-2765 (-118)
5. Steve Francis 1-9-16-$91,750-2763 (-120)
6. Shane Clanton 0-10-14-$41,630-2719 (-164)
7. Clint Smith 1-7-11-$39,560-2715 (-168)
8. Shannon Babb 1-7-14-$59,400-2713 (-170)
9. Tim Fuller 0-3-7-$23,970-2583 (-300)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$23,970-2531 (-352)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-2-$16,570-2018 (-865)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$9,290-1751 (-1132)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$11,200-1724 (-1159)
14. Tim McCreadie 1-6-9-$38,200-1463 (-1420)
15. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$4,820-1302 (-1581)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikline and Super Clean.